The forest fires on the west coast of the United States have reached devastating proportions. In many places it continues to burn. Authorities hope for favorable winds and rain.
As of Saturday, September 12, at least 29 people had died in the forest fires on the west coast of the US, according to media reports. NBC television reported 20 confirmed deaths in the state of California since mid-August, and eight in Oregon and one in Washington. In addition, dozens of people were reported missing in the three states along the coast, and local authorities feared further deaths.
Tens of thousands of people have already had to leave their homes to flee the flames, and hundreds of thousands in Oregon alone are dependent on at least preparing for an evacuation. According to the New York Times, an area equivalent to around 20,200 square kilometers of forest had burned down in the past few weeks.
Numerous firefighters continued to fight the forest fires over the weekend, and the situation stabilized somewhat in some places. In the state of Oregon, evacuation warning levels have been relaxed in some areas, according to The Oregonian newspaper. There and in California, the authorities hoped for a relaxation through favorable winds and possible rain.
US President Donald Trump wants to be personally briefed on the forest fires in California for the first time on Monday, September 14. Trump will visit McClellan Park, a settlement north of Sacramento in the center of the state, spokesman Judd Deere confirmed on Saturday. He will take part in a meeting with regional and federal forces. Trump had planned election campaign dates in the neighboring state of Nevada for the weekend and the beginning of the week, according to the US media an appointment in Arizona was also planned on Monday.
“My heart breaks for my wonderful state,” wrote Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley on Twitter on Saturday to pictures of burned down houses. “This is the devastation I see today left by these never-seen forest fires. Streets of houses and shops, hopes and dreams, history and future, everything decimated. ”
This year, according to the New York Times, the soils in Oregon in particular were parched due to severe drought in the northwest of the state, which means that the fires are also spreading into regions that are typically not affected by fires. In Oregon, Saturday’s fires also came close to the city of Portland. According to the IQAir database, it was the world’s most polluted city. Doctors had also reported on CNN that the air quality in many cities had reached a level that was harmful to health.
Forest fires are raging in a dozen states in the western United States, including Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado and Idaho, according to the federal agency’s National Interagency Fire Center. According to the authority, around 29,000 firefighters and other emergency services are fighting the flames throughout the affected region.
“We are in a climate crisis,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday during a site visit to the burned-out forests near the village of Oroville. Many scientists would have predicted this development years ago.
Scientists believe that the climate crisis will exacerbate drought, heat and weather extremes that contribute to more violent forest fires. Six of the current fires are already among the 20 largest in California history since records began in 1930.